Mustang Moving Forward

MN Alum and social studies teacher Jackson Gzehoviak leave MN to pursue their PhD

Sadie Hugelman, Staff Writer

Walking through the halls the skywalk and student computers are new for past Millard North student Jackson Gzehoviak. Although there is the same principal, same teachers, and forensics coach, some things are drastically different. 

Gzehoviak is now a teacher, and the years spent away proved changed for not only the school they once attended but also for the person they are now. After four years as a student and five years of teaching and coaching, Gzehoviak is now ready to leave MN and get their PhD. 

Their love for language and teaching has inspired them to get their PhD in language studies. Although it was not an easy decision and they haven’t chosen a school yet, the choice to leave MN has been made. 

“I never want to be the person that abandons a group of people, which is why I think that I’ll never fully leave forensics,” Gzehoviak said.

Gzehoviak has been teaching history and language studies at MN for five years now. Along with teaching, they are also the assistant coach for the Forensics team. Gzehoviak coaches alongside head coach Sabrina DenneyBull, the same speech coach who taught Gzehoviak while they were in high school. 

“It was really interesting to see how things had changed and how things had stayed the same in so many ways. It was kind of cool to be able to work with some of my former teachers and learn from them and partner with them too,” Gzehoviak said. 

Over the past years, the two coaches have built not only a partnership, but also a friendship. Gzehoviak finds that working alongside their past teacher and coach works well because both of them work at the same pace and share similar values on how to coach the team. Together, Gzehoviak and DenneyBull have won three state championships during their partnership and coached a speech student to first place at 2021 NSDA Nationals. 

“I think both of us have this idea that every student and every competitor is worth just as much as the other. It’s not like we’re only coaching our most competitively successful kids, we both really believe in and care about treating everybody with the same amount of attention and care. I really like coaching for a team that trained me to have that value, and with the person [DenneyBull] that gave me that lesson,” Gzehoviak said. 

Students describe Gzehoviak’s teaching style as more hands-on. In the language studies class that they teach they prioritize challenging their students to study and research the basics of speaking different languages rather just learn about a language.

“I’m really sad to be honest, I was really hoping that with my last season I would really have them around because they’ve done so much to really help me understand extemp and just forensics in general and they inspired me to take a lot of classes. I was really hoping to have them my senior year,” junior Vikram Menon said.

Menon finds that over the years spent being coached by Gzehoviak he has found them to be a mentor rather than just a teacher. Some of Menon’s favorite forensics moments have been spent with Gzehoviak; whether it’s being called out in a zoom call at an online tournament or eating homemade falafel in extemp meetings after school,   Gzehoviak has made each student and competitor feel important.

“It [the team] will be different, it will be like there’s a small hole, but I’m sure it will still be good. The team will just lack a good extemp coach,” Menon said.